Covering three states—Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma—the Ozarks are a mountain range and plateau with ample hiking trails and lakes. When selecting an Ozarks vacation rental, you can choose a central location and visit a variety of attractions nearby, or you could stay at a cottage or cabin along the banks. Your family getaway can include low-key activities such as fishing, boating, and hiking, as well as more adventurous activities including zip lining, horseback riding, and rock climbing. Here’s a quick look at the top nine things to do with your kids during your trip to the Ozarks.
1. World’s Largest Toy Museum Complex
Your kids won’t want to wait for a rainy afternoon to visit the World’s Largest Toy Museum Complex. This museum, dedicated to childish delights, offers toys from the 1800s through the present day. Featuring displays of cast iron toys, lunch boxes, and tin toys, the museum has more than a million items, from cars and trains to Barbies and board games, for your family to see. After touring the space, you can stop by the gift shop to buy a small toy to take home.
2. Dickerson Park Zoo
Take your little ones to see wild things at the Dickerson Park Zoo. Opened in 1986, this zoo houses more than 500 animals, covering 160 species. For an additional fee, your kids can have an up-close encounter with a zebra or sea otter. Kids and adults can ask a professional about the animals they encounter. Visitors can also head to the on-site kitchens to see how the zoo prepares food for so many animals with varying nutritional needs.
3. Bridal Cave
Cool off on a hot day by going underground at the Bridal Cave. At this unusually named cave, you’ll learn about the Osage Native American Chief’s daughter, who wanted to marry a member of another tribe. As you tour the cave, a guide offers detailed information on the legend, the history of the cave, and the geological structures inside the cave. Concrete pathways wind through the cave, so put on your sturdy walking shoes before leaving your vacation rental.
Head to Lake of the Ozarks, and take your family out on the water for a day of boating, fishing, and swimming. The lake offers several boat ramps, which is convenient if you have your own boat. If you don’t have a boat, head to BomBay Boat Rental Company or Mike Fink’s Marina Boat and Wave Runner Rentals to rent one for the day. Rent tubes along with the boat, and take turns with your kids riding behind the boat in an inner tube.
5. Table Rock State Park
Put on your hiking boots and pack some water, and spend the day at Table Rock State Park. At a little over 2-miles long, the Table Rock Shoreline Trail runs along the banks of the lake and offers an easy walk for a family with small kids. Stop by the visitor’s center, and get a bird checklist before striking out. While walking the trail, keep your eyes peeled for the birds on your list. Bring binoculars from your vacation rental to get a closer look at any birds you aren’t sure about.
6. See a Waterfall
In the Arkansas area of the Ozarks, there are several stunning waterfalls. Falling Water Falls is a great location for a family with smaller kids. If you’re traveling with tweens and teens, then check out Twin Falls. It’s a much more strenuous hike to reach Twin Falls, but due to their stunning beauty, they’re worth the extra effort. Hemmed-In-Hollow is accessible by canoe and cascades down an amazing 220 feet, making it the tallest waterfall in the state.
7. Silver Dollar City
Learn a little more about what life was like in the olden days in the midwest at the Silver Dollar City Amusement Park. With more than 40 rides, there is something for everyone in your family to enjoy. Your little ones can hop on the swing ride or merry-go-round while your daredevil teens enjoy the roller coasters. Bring home a souvenir made by one of the local craft makers in the park.
8. Showboat Branson Belle
Visit Showboat Branson Belle, and enjoy a two-hour cruise out on the lake. During your cruise, your family gets a three-course meal and can eat while enjoying a musical show. While hanging out on the deck, deposit a couple of coins into the telescope, and let your little ones see far into the distance. The cruise is available during the day or the evening, so you can easily plan it around your vacation schedule.
9. White Water
Beat the heat at White Water Park, which features a selection of water slides, lazy rivers, and wave pools. Rent a poolside cabana to create a base for your towels and sunscreen while the family explores the park. Coconut Cove is part playground and part shallow pool, so you can take your toddlers for a swim. Pipeline Plunge welcomes the thrill-seekers in your family, as it twists and turns before dumping riders in a pool of water.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Ozarks vacation rentals on Tripping.com.